Hospital Language Interpreters

Visalia, CA, USA A South Valley hospital is making changes to help people of different cultures.

Julio Jimines injured his knee while playing football. He's trying to get treated for his injury at Kaweah Delta Medical Center but he can't do it without a Spanish interpreter for his father. His father, Mario Jimines, says in Spanish "The things that I cannot say, he can help me understand them."

Mario Jimines says the interpreter helps him feel at ease. Medical Interpreter Fernando Pineda says "I think most of the time they want to know the basics- what's wrong with me? Is this something that we can cure? How long will I be here?"

Pineda says medical terms can already be difficult to understand for someone who speaks English. Kaweah Delta officials held a seminar on Tuesday to help employees understand new guidelines that will be put in place in 2011 to better accommodate patients from a variety of cultures who speak different languages.

Lindsay Mann, Kaweah Delta Medical Center's CEO says "When you've got cultural and linguistic barriers, excellent communication can't happen and the risk of patient care not being as outstanding as it should be increases."

Mann says Kaweah Delta has already put in place some of the new procedures, including having medical interpreters on hand, like Fernando, who can translate medical terminology—and using translation material that patients can use to better understand what the procedures are at a hospital.

Officials at Kaweah Delta also want to start using picture cards which can show different parts of the body and levels of pain. They say these cards can help an emergency room patient who has difficulty speaking. Mann says "If a person comes in believing they have a spiritual hex on them and that is driving abdominal pain and an appendicitis we want to be respectful of that cultural belief while at the same time addressing the medical condition that they have."

Lindsay Mann says that could mean bringing in spiritual leaders to help a patient's healing process.


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